Monday, October 2, 2023

In Grief: Still Struggling After The First Year

Consequences follow when we force people to use a universal roadmap for grieving, and then judge those who do not follow it as wrong or sick. We deny the normality of grief. We deny the differences in our grieving experiences. We deny people the freedom to grieve.
~ Nancy Berns

If you find yourself (or someone you know) struggling with new waves of grief after having reached the one year mark, you are not alone. A woman whose husband died 15 months ago described her experience this way:
Now it's just me and the dog. I was never very social -- my family was enough for me. If I were to become more social now, I'd basically have to change my personality -- and I just don't have the energy. People have been telling me to get a hobby or get active in some way -- but after I get home from work and walk the dog, I spend the rest of my time doing nothing at all. I feel paralyzed by grief. I know that our grief journey is a roller coaster -- but this roller coaster has been hurtling downward for quite some time. Is this what's called complicated grief? Am I depressed? I can't seem to get a grip on this and the future seems hopeless.
Most people expect to feel better after that first year of bereavement, as if they've reached some sort of significant milestone in their grief journey. Unfortunately, this is another of those myths about grief that simply does not hold true. If you assume that grief will ease as the second year begins, you may soon discover that in many ways it seems much harder now than it did before. You may find yourself feeling even worse ~ and that can seem very unsettling.

But think about it: For anyone grieving a significant loss, particularly when that was a spouse or life partner, the first year is a time of adjusting and learning to survive. Then comes the second year and, if you're like many mourners, it is even harder than the first, as this is when you are grappling with the harsh reality that your loved one is physically gone forever, along with all the secondary losses that accompany this death, including greatly diminished social support, financial instability or loss of religious faith.

If you take the time to explore some of the threads and read the posts in our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups, you will notice that many of our members are still actively mourning, even though their losses occurred three, four and five years ago. Fortunately, this site is one place where the bereaved can come to be surrounded by others who will not hold them to some arbitrary timetable and won't judge them for not being "over it" yet. I strongly believe that is why this site continues to be one of the most powerful sources of support for the bereaved.

Reading Suggestions
If you are past the first year of grief, feeling lost and looking for some direction, here is a list of some of the books I would recommend most highly to help you through (click on the book titles to read Amazon's description and reviews of each). And certainly if you've found a book or article that you've found especially helpful, please share it with us in the Post a Comment section below!
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